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In today's society, the problem of juvenile delinquency is running more rampant than ever before. Also, the degrees to which it occurs are far more serious than they were, even ten years ago. The problem used to be over-simplified and chalked up to "kids will be kids", but today's "kids" are contributing to much more serious crimes than they used to. One statistic states that youths under the age of 18 years accounted for 15.4% of arrests for violent crimes and 33.5% of arrests for property crimes in 1986.1 This statistic is more than ten years old, and with the increasing popularity of gang culture and substance abuse amongst young people, it would be safe to assume that these statistics have either increased, or at the very least, remained the same.
With numbers as high as they are, delinquency amongst youths must be seen as a social problem that has to be dealt with soon, before it becomes even more out of control than it is right now. Before we can begin to try and treat this behavior, we must establish a cause for it. As with a physical illness, a cure cannot be obtained until a cause is determined, therefore we must uncover the underlying factors that cause this behaviour, and then work from there to find a suitable "treatment".
Review Of Literature And Development Of Hypothesis
As with all behavioral and psychological issues, the nature vs. nurture debate comes into play when discussing causes of delinquency. Many people feel strongly that one or the other is usually the cause of certain "behavioral problems", but I tend to think that often, it's usually the two theories working together. My hypothesis is that it is a combination of biological factors and learned behaviour that causes delinquency amongst young people, and not simply one or the other.
I feel that children are born with genetically pre-determined personality traits, such as violence, temper, morality & conscience levels, etc., but I don't believe that these traits get the chance to surface without being affected by external environmental factors. I feel that just as alcoholism, intelligence levels, and sense of humor are hereditary, so are violent tendencies, and conscience levels. However, I believe that even if a child is born with these tendencies, they aren't likely to display them unless outside factors (i.e. peer group, family life) influence them. For example, if a child is raised in an abusive household or regularly associates with people who display these behaviors, these factors will trigger the repressed traits to surface, while if the child had been raised in a stabile, nurturing environment, they might not have. On the other hand, I don't believe that simply being raised in a destructive environment will cause somebody to behave immorally; this is where the necessity for the biological aspect comes in. There are thousands of people who are abused as children, or associate with the "bad crowd", yet it does not cause them to behave in the same manner.
Kohlberg's Theory of Cognitive Stages (1969) says that there are five stages in the development of moral reasoning, and that the relationship of this theory to delinquent behaviour lies primarily in the distinction betw
Names mentioned in this term paper
Richard., Scott W., Gibbs, Bandura, Goldstein, Glick,
Organizations referenced in this research material
The Haworth Press,
Locations referenced in this research material
New York, Mississippi, NY, Binghamton, CA,
Facility included in this report
Companies mentioned in this research paper
Simon & Schuster, SAGE Publications,
Keywords included in this research paper
delinquency, youth, biological, juvenile delinquency, social, young offenders, young people, Young Offenders Act, peer group, environmental factors, delinquents,